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Category: Wheel-walk #1 – Fleetwood (Lancashire)

Wheel-walk #1 – Fleetwood (Lancashire)

Wheel-walk #1 – Fleetwood (Lancashire)

Setting off
Setting off

Name:       Fleetwood Esplanade

 

Address:  The Esplanade, Fleetwood

Post Code: FY7 6BN

Distance: 3.4 miles (5.5km) appx

Ground Type: Tarmac & Concrete

 

 

Area and History

The Victorian town of Fleetwood, in Wyre, is nestled at the meeting point of the majestic River Wyre and the Irish Sea and with its long stretch of sandy beach, it’s a popular seaside destination for families. Fleetwood is believed to be the first planned town of the Victorian Era and Queen Victoria herself passed through it on her way from London to Scotland in 1847. Fleetwood’s Victorian buildings and monuments are still some of its most appealing attractions. The Mount is a leafy, seven-acre park built on a large sand dune. For fantastic sea views go up to the stately Pavilion, built in 1902, at the summit. If you continue your wheel-walk across The Esplanade you’ll come to the Marine Hall, a 1930s architectural gem, which is surrounded by the attractive, flower-filled Marine Gardens where there’s also a bowling green, pitch and putt and children’s playground. Fleetwood is also a well-known shopping destination with a fantastic range of historic and modern shopping venues. Fleetwood Market is housed in an attractive Victorian building and is one of the largest covered markets in the North West. Its 250 stalls sell all manner of goods. Alternatively, visit Freeport Fleetwood, a modern, waterfront outlet shopping village which has 45 bargain clearance shops including Next, M&S, and Gap.

Fleetwood is located on the Fylde Peninsula, 8 miles (13 km) north of Blackpool on the western side of the mouth of the River Wyre. The town itself is on a peninsula, almost 2 miles (3 km) wide, bounded to the west by the Irish Sea to the north by Morecambe Bay, and to the east by the River Wyre. Access to Fleetwood is thus restricted, and for many years there were only two roads into and out of the town. A large sandbank, the North Wharf, extends some 2 14 miles (3.6 km) north into Morecambe Bay, and is exposed at low tide. The river channel forms the eastern boundary of the bank. Together with the larger Bernard Wharf on the other side of the river, this makes navigation of the river difficult. Conversely, the port is highly sheltered from the prevailing westerly winds.

The Mound
The Mount

Like the remainder of the Fylde, the land is extremely flat, the highest point being the Mount, the large sand dune in the northern part of the town, from which the original street plan radiated. Parts of Fleetwood, especially to the north and west, are barely above sea level at high tide, and a large retaining sea wall runs along much of the western edge of the town. Nevertheless, Fleetwood was flooded in 1927, and again in 1977. The latter flood, although much smaller, affected more properties as there had been considerable development in the 1960s in the lower-lying parts of the town. The soil is broadly sandy, but there is considerable marshland to the south and east, by the river. The town itself encompasses an area of just under 4 square miles (10 km2).

In common with the rest of the coastal areas of the UK, Fleetwood has a maritime climate. Prevailing winds and weather patterns are north-westerly, leading to a slightly higher average precipitation than the country as a whole, although the absence of high ground in the immediate vicinity moderates this. As with most coastal areas, frost and snow are uncommon. Temperatures are close to the national average.

This is a linear route, and so I have identified a natural point at the Coastal Watch Station, where you can turn around and head back and eventually you will return to the point you set off. Though it can be extended if energy and battery power remain and I’ll explain more later.

The walk

Though I make reference to ’Beach’ this walk in fact takes the esplanade and promenade from Fleetwood towards Cleveleys, and on this walk, stopping at Rossall, and back again if you wish. It is primarily a linear route, though you can deviate slightly if you want to add a little variety to the walk. Don’t underestimate the time and distance in the walk even for an able bodies companion, it is flat all the way but quite easily could turn into a 10 – 12 mile round trip if you add a couple of walks together.

Power chair batteries need to be capable of this distance comfortably or you will need to make arrangements for a return journey, possibly via bus or tram. We chose to start our walk at Fleetwood. If you make your way to the North Euston Hotel, there are Public Conveniences directly opposite the entrance with disabled/baby changing facilities. Do remember to bring some loose change (20p when we were last there—change is not given) or your RADAR key. We find that we need frequent ‘convenience’ stops and this, and my other walks do refer to these to help your planning.

Starting point
Starting point

If you cross over the road onto the esplanade, you will stay on that walkway all the way which is ideal and free from vehicles and wide tarmac or concrete under foot. Have your back to Fleetwood Lower Lighthouse now disused and head south. Lower Lighthouse is one of three – Fleetwood is the only town in Great Britain to have three – Lower Lighthouse is 44 feet tall, Upper Lighthouse (Pharos) is 93 feet tall. Both designed by Decimus Burton and opened in 1840 and the Pharos was rebuilt in 1906. For many years these two lighthouses were painted white, with red tops, but in the twentieth century they were sandblasted back to their original stone. The third lighthouse was also built in 1840 and was situated one and a half miles out to sea in an area known as Wyre Light. This was a wooden structure and most of which was destroyed by fire on 1948. It does however live on in the book ‘The Sea Swallow’ by Gareth Thompson.

You will find the footpath wide and easy to walk along. I would urge you not to just put your head down and walk, but do take time to look at what is going on around you, even at this early stage of the walk. Since the burning down of the pier, Fleetwood has received considerable investment and this Victoria treasure has many landmarks all around. As you start walking you may see Fishermen, Jet Skiers, Sailing boats and many people just having a great time.

Down to the beach
                                                                     Down to the beach

As you walk past the former Fleetwood Pier site – this was burned down in 2008 and the site now

has planning consent to build a two story, eighteen-bedroom hotel and approach the Marine Hall, take the road to your right and head slightly downhill following the path past beach huts on your left and the beach on your right. The Marine Hall was also rebuilt in 2011/12 to create a modern outdoor entertainment area, with outdoor stage and colonnade.

Head towards the beach and follow the pathway around to the left where you will pass between the Marine Hall and beach and follow the path.

Distant Coastal Watch Tower
Distant Coastal Watch Tower

This is a straight path, but I would urge you to take your time and look about you as you walk. If your party includes able bodies walkers, there are plenty of benches they can take advantage of and you will see your destination in the distance as the Coastal Watch Tower stands high on the horizon with an uncanny ‘lean’ towards the sea. Sadly, when you reach this point, there is no lift to the viewing level, but if stairs can be managed, there are magnificent views out across the Irish Sea, a huge Nautical Wind Farm, and looking North, you will see the South Cumbrian Coast line and a little nearer, the Heysham Nuclear processing plant from this level. Do not be deterred id you are unable to access it as the views from the footpath are equally impressive.

 

Groynes
Groyne

As you approach this point you will pass a number of Groynes that are in place to help prevent the beaches being washed away. Within each section you will likely see Sea Fishing, as well as picnics and good family fun.

As you arrive at the Coastal Watch Station, there is a free to enter information office, with may leaflets and volunteers to explain their purpose and how they interact and work with the RNLI, Coast Guard and other services. You can easily spend an hour at this point and if you have brought your picnic, it’s an ideal spot to take a break. Disabled Easy Access toilets are sited within this tower too. Around the back you will find these and again RADAR key accessed (or 20p)

When you have reached this point, there are some choices for you:

  • For the purpose of this guide, I suggest that you begin to retrace your steps to you starting point. This will allow you to see the walk from a completely different perspective, and likely the tide will be at a different place for your return journey and so present you with a vastly new landscape. You may like to stop at the Marine Hall when you arrive at that point and explore the gift shops, café’s and entertainment or just sit in the sun on the green.
  • You can continue to retrace your steps, but as you come upon the connecting roads on your right, you can opt to follow these through to the main road and walk in parallel to the promenade but alongside the park’s and boating lakes back to your starting point. This will add variety to the walk if ‘just’ retracing your steps does not seem that exciting.
  • The third option to consider is to continue along the promenade in the direction you were heading, it is a fabulous walk and leads you eventually to Cleveleys. I cover this walk in my wheel-walking #7 – Cleveleys (Lancashire) but you can look to incorporate both together. A word of caution however, is that as this is a linear walk, a point comes when you will need to return and that journey may be done in the way you arrive or to have transport to take you back. A return walk would cover approximately 12 miles and so I would urge you to consider, both fitness and stamina, and also battery life if using, Power Chair or scooter.

I hope you find this walk and guide of interest and it has excited you to venture outside and in this case, to explore our coastal wonders. I would love to hear from you if you chose to use this guide. Are there any points I should include to make it better? Do you have a walk you think I should explore and include? I would also love to see your photographs as you follow my guide.